Mailboxes have been used in the United States since the mid 1800s and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Originally, homes had the mailbox attached to the front door and boxes were later moved to the curb when rural routes were introduced. Today, mailboxes can be used for much more than delivering mail. There are many craft projects available to make use of old or discarded mailboxes and repurpose them with a new look.
If you do not already have a mailbox you want to repurpose, you can search flea markets, antique stores or garage sales to find one. Older versions are typically rectangular with a hinged top. You can also buy a new one at your local home improvement store, such as Home Depot or Lowes. Make sure you buy a metal one, because it is hard for paint to adhere to the plastic type.
The standard color is black. If you do not plan to leave the original color, you also need to buy paint specifically formulated to stick to metal. You may also want to purchase both regular and small paint brushes so you can paint the base coat then add decorations later.
If your mailbox will remain inside, you may also want to purchase decoupage medium (available at arts and crafts stores such as Michaels and AC Moore). This will allow you to add photographs or ephemera to your box.
One great new use for an old mailbox is a birdhouse. You can paint it to match the trim on your house or add whimsical birds and flowers. Just make sure you paint it with weather resistant paint so it does not rust.
After the paint is dry, mount it onto the trunk of a tree using screws. You may need to drill holes in the back of the mailbox to make the mounting easier. Leave the door open and wait for birds to take up residence.
Another more traditional use for old mailboxes is a holder for bills, cards and letters. Decorate the door with a stenciled letters that spell "Bills" or paint it to match your office decor. Smaller top hinged mailboxes work best for this project, but if you have a standard size mailbox you may want to cut it in half. The front half can be mounted on a wall to hold papers and the back half can be turned on its end and used as a planter.
A more romantic use for old mailboxes is to make them gift boxes. Decorate the outside with pictures, postcards or stickers. Use decoupage medium to permanently adhere the ephemera to your box and create a keepsake.
Place your gift inside the mailbox, then tie with a bow. This is an especially thoughtful way to send love letters or Valentine's Day gifts to your sweetheart.
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